ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – A decision by the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney not to file charges in two cases of alleged voter fraud has left the Missouri Secretary of State “incredulous” and the prosecutor searching for more reasonable remedies.
In late August, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft announced his office had uncovered fraud with two men who voted absentee in Florida and then voted in person in St. Charles County.
Last week, the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar’s office confirmed to FOX 2 that it had declined to press charges in both cases in September, and instead reached a deferral agreement.
Ashcroft told FOX2 that his last discussion with Lohmar about the cases “was not cordial.”
“I’m astounded by a prosecutor that doesn’t believe in the rule of law and protecting our elections,” Ashcroft told FOX 2 in a recent interview. “It sounds like the ridiculous sort of thing you’d hear out of California and some of their prosecutors who don’t believe the law should be followed. I’m incredulous that we see it happening here in Missouri. This is just beyond belief.”
“I can understand why the Secretary of State might find this so egregious but my constituency is more concerned about the murder cases, the violent criminals, and the child molesters that we have to deal with on a consistent basis much more so than what amounts to a foolish yet innocent mistake in these election fraud cases,” Lohmar said in a Monday interview.
The biggest driver in the decision not to prosecute may have come down to Lohmar’s belief that the available punishment didn’t fit the crime.
“They were between residences from Missouri and another state, they weren’t sure which ballot was lawful, so they cast two of them, that’s foolish, its certainly wrong, its a mistake it violates our laws for sure, but in terms of them doing something that would rise to the level of facing a felony and the possibility of going to prison over something like this I just thought that was overkill,” Lohmar said. “The Secretary of State could really use his influence in a really constructive way if he were to lobby the legislature to provide a misdemeanor remedy, where maybe a fine or something much less significant than prison time would be the only recourse for a case such as this.”
Ashcroft has said he would continue to push for the legislature to pass a “Voter ID” bill among other election security bills and does not support a lesser penalty.
“I took an oath to uphold the constitution and the statutes pursuant to them,” he said Tuesday. “I am incredulous that a prosecutor would think that election fraud is not important.
Lohmar said the deferral agreement includes stipulations for keeping a clean legal record, maintaining employment, and checking in with his office.
Lohmar said the three election-related cases he’s had referred to his office this year are the first he can remember in his time in the office.